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Prince William

Residents Brush Up on Issues at Town Hall

Occoquan District Supervisor Micheal C. May

Lake Ridge, Va. –– Commuter parking, land use issues and the county’s budget were hot topics at this Saturday’s town hall meeting held by Occoquan District Supervisor Micheal C. May.

Those who attended were happy to know county officials in the recent recession have been doing more with less money, said May.

“The County Board has been forced to make a lot of difficult decisions over the past few years, as well as made some major reductions in budget in light of economy. The county’s general fund has only grown .07 percent in recent years while population has grown almost 10 percent in the past five years,” said May.

May says he holds about three town hall meeting each year, and this year it was easier than last as fewer cuts in services have been discussed.

Last year, there was talk about closing a mini public library in Lake Ridge.

“People took some comfort knowing we can’t add services, but that we are not looking at taking any away,” added May.

The supervisor has scheduled another town hall meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. March 9, at Westminster at Lake Ridge.

Fire Engulfs Garage

(Submitted)

Woodbridge, Va. –– A two-car garage caught fire Sunday, prompting volunteer fire fighters to spring into action.

The blaze broke out at 4:03 p.m. in the 1400 block of Horner Road in Woodbridge.

When fire and rescue crews arrived, the saw the garage had been completely engulfed in flames, said OWL VFD spokeswoman Rebecca Barnes.

Fire crews worked to make sure the flames did not spread to adjacent homes.

No one was injured, and the fire was extinguished.

In addition to fire crews from Woodbridge, volunteers from Dale City were also called to help combat the flames.

An investigation into what caused the fire is still ongoing, said Barnes.

School Budget Session Planned

Stafford Counkty Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges (File)

Stafford, Va. –– Stafford County school officials have once again planned to sit down to hash out differences over the public school’s operating budget.

Following a meeting earlier this month, this latest meeting will take place Tuesday at the Alvin York Brady Complex in Stafford.

First at 4 p.m., a budget work session will be held and then officials will tackle the topic of redistricting at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting comes after Superintendent Randy Bridges last week said tough choices will have to be made in the face of a $9 million budget deficit.

Bridges said officials may be forced to eliminate positions through attrition.

That didn’t sit well with some members of the Rocky Run Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, who said cuts at the school would increase class size and would make it harder to instruct students.

Earlier this month, Stafford school officials announced they would consider redistricting students to relive crowding at Hartwood and Rocky Run elementary schools.

Storms Expected Today

Update 9:30 a.m.
Update 1 p.m.
The National Weather Service has canceled the tornado warning for the area, but strong storms can still be expected before 2 p.m.

A tornado watch has been issued for the Potomac Communities.

The watch is in effect for Faifax, Stafford and Prince William counties until 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Original Post 7:30 a.m.
The roller coaster ride that has been the weather in our area continues today.

Thunderstorms could overspread the area between 1 and 4 p.m., and some could bring heavy downpours and high winds, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms are forecast as high temperatures are expected to make it into the low 70s today.

Tornado watches have been posted off to our west, and meteorologists say they could be extended to our area as the day progresses.

Tonight, a thunderstorm is possible before 7 p.m.

Tomorrow, skies clear up with forecasted sunny conditions but temperatures will drop.

Highs on Tuesday are only expected to get into the high 40s and low 50s.

Around Town

Teen gets 28 years in Mt. Vernon area murder
A 16-year-old arrested last year in Woodbridge was sentenced to 28 –years in the beating death of another teenager. Prosecutors said Mario Reyes, who is now 17, took a baseball bat to Woodlawn Park in Mount Vernon and used it to beat the 16-year-old victim – another gang member – to death, The Washington Post reports.

Planning Commission votes no growth for Brooke
To build or not to build in Brooke remains one of the most hotly contested issues in Stafford County right now. Stafford County’s planning commission voted last week to strike a plan to build new homes, businesses and new transit options near the Brooke Virginia Railway Express station. Two of the five commissioners say not making a plan for develop Brooke would be a mistake, Fredericksburg.com reports.

A new tenant for Quantico Corporate Center
QinetiQ North America will have 300 employees in three locations in Stafford County after it opens a new 70,000 square foot office in the Quantico Corporate Center at Boswell’s Corner, The Washington Business Journal reports.

$7 Million to Fund Upgraded Road

Mo Kim points out the planned changes to Mountain View Road to Kay Dudenhefer, wife of Stafford Board Chairman Mark Dudenhefer. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford, Va. –– Stafford County is investing its own money to make one road safer.

Residents on Thursday were invited to a public meeting about improvements to Mountain View Road.

The 9.1-mile, two-lane stretch of road traverses the middle of the county and has long been known for its sharp curves, narrow lanes and tight shoulders.

Now, county officials are investing $7 million – $6 million of county money and $1 million in grants – to widen the lanes of the road to a width of 12 feet, add four-foot wide shoulders on each side, as well as storm water drainage to each side of the road.

Voters in a road bond referendum approved the improvements in 2008, and when complete, the road will meet current standards set forth by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“It shows Stafford’s commitment to improving road safety and shows the culture here is changing. Local government is taking ownership of problems that exist here, and it’s taken five years to work on the culture in Stafford, where the old mantra used to be ‘it’s the state’s responsibility to pay for road improvements,’” said Stafford Board Chairman Mark Dudenhefer.

Dudenhefer lost his 19-year-old daughter in a crash in the county in 2004.

Since that time, he has served on commissions and focused much of his tenure on the county board of supervisors to improving area roads.

Two Pulled From 95 Crash

Rescue crews pulled two victims from a truck that overturned on I-95 in Triangle. (Submitted)

Triangle, Va. – Two people were taken to the hospital this morning after their pickup rolled over on Interstate 95 in Triangle.

The crash happened at 3:40 a.m., and one of the victims was trapped between the dashboard and floorboard of the vehicle, and the

other was trapped beneath the first victim, according to a Dumfries Triangle Volunteer Fire Department spokeswoman.

The victims were extracted from the truck. One was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital and the other was taken to Stafford HospitalCenter.

About 12:40 p.m. Saturday, volunteers were called back to the highway for a report of an overturned camping trailer at milepost 151 in Dumfries.

Though children were reported to be inside the trailer when it flipped onto its side, no one was seriously injured.

More from DTVFS.

Winds Bring Power Outages

Update 8:40 a.m. Saturday
Domion Virginia reports all power outages in the Potomac Communities have been restored. Still without power? Let us know.

Original Post 8:40 p.m. Friday
Stafford, Va. –– Dominion Virginia Power is reporting 95 customers in the area of Telegraph Road in North Stafford are without power at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

The cause of the outage is being investigated, but high winds have whipped the area this afternoon, blowing off the remaining portion of the iconic Potomac Mills sign.

Dominion crews were also working to restore power to about 40 customers in the Woodbridge and Lorton areas.

Rape, Incest Charges Filed

Lake Ridge, Va. –– Police obtained arrest warrants for a Lake Ridge man now accused of raping an 18-year-old female.

Prince William police say their investigation into the alleged rape began Nov. 15.

On Tuesday, investigators obtained warrants for 44-year-old Rene Martinez Romero, 44, of Mohican Road.

Police say he is a family member of the victim and has been charged with rape and incest.

Romero was held without bond.

Remaining Portion of Potomac Mills Sign Gone

High winds blew through the region once again on Friday and took the remaining portion of the iconic Potomac Mills mall sign with it.

Update 2:25 p.m.
The large sign at Potomac Mills mall overlooking Interstate 95 has fallen to the ground as high winds sweep the area.

Woodbridge,Va. –– Winds are once again battering the large Potomac Mills mall sign that stands high atop its perch looking over Interstate 95.

At 2 p.m., the north-facing portion of the sign was hanging on by a tread during another round of violent wind gusts to sweep the area.

Virginia State Police had been notified the sign – made of banner-like material – could fall 150 feet to the highway below, said Potomac Mills spokeswoman Caroline Barry Green.

“We have people in place ready to react when it falls down, but right now with the current wind speeds there is no way we can send someone up there to bring it down safely,” said Green.

While this is the second round of high winds to whip the area with gusts of over 50 mph, the south-facing portion of the sign blew away during last weekend’s violent wind gusts that fanned wild fires across much of Northern Virginia and Maryland.

State troopers assisted crews in retrieving the downed sign and no one was injured.

Mall officials have already had a plan in the works to replace the portion of the sign that had been missing, which is about 50 feet wide.

Now, they’ll have to replace both sides of the sign, said Green.

The iconic sign has stood in the same spot since the mall opened in 1985.

24-HR Medical Center Planned for Lake Ridge

An artist’s rendition of a new health facility that will sit at the intersection of Minnieville and Summit School roads in Lake Ridge. (Submitted)

Lake Ridge, Va. — Lake Ridge is the neighborhood next in line for a 24-hour emergency medical center.

Sentara Health Care announced the new center should open early next year at  the intersection of Minnieville and Summit School roads, and will offer physician, advanced imaging and laboratory services.

When finished, the new 43,500 square foot facility will ease the patient load at Potomac Hospital, which was designed to accommodate 40,000 patients per year but is now seeing about 60,000 per year, according to Sentara spokeswoman Charlene Wilkins.

While the medical center will be staffed with board-certified physicians, Wilkins says patients who will be seen at the Lake Ridge center may still be taken at doctor’s orders to Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge in serious cases.

Sentara chose to build the new center in Lake Ridge because the U.S. Census Bureau estimates population is expected to grow there by 9.6 percent over the next five years to 206,772, said Wilkins.

Augustine Golf Course Sold

Stafford, Va. –– Augustine Golf Course has a new owner.

Raspberry Golf Management purchased the facility Wednesday, adding it to its portfolio of golf courses in Northern Virginia.

Some include Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge and Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club in Leesburg.

“Augustine is a great golf course with a great reputation, but over the years it has declined and we see this as an opportunity for us to return it to its heyday,” said Raspberry Golf Management spokesman David Finocchiaro.

Raspberry plans to keep the club closed for renovations to the clubhouse and improvements to the course. Their goal is raise the conditions of the course to meet those of their other properties.

Finocchairo says guests will notice an immediate difference in service and staff when the club reopens, sometime later this year.

Augustine will remain a semi-private golf club, where players may become members and non-members are also allowed to play as long as tee times are available, said Finocchairo.

According to Stafford County land records, Augustine was last sold for $8.5 million in July 2008.

Around Town

Fairfax schools review disciplinary policy
Fairfax County Public Schools are now reviewing their disciplinary policy after two parents say their teenager committed suicide after being suspended from school, transferred to a different school and  subsequently kicked off his football team, MyFoxDC reports.

A George Mason south town campus?
George Mason University is one of five colleges that has been invited to set up a campus in Martinsville, Va., in southern Virginia. Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, Radford and Virginia State universities were also invited to set up shop in the town. More at Connect2Mason.

New charges filed in soldier’s death
New charges have been filed in the case of an Army soldier who was stabbed to death.
Army Spc. Morganne McBeth was killed after joining the Army in 2008, and her parents now live in Stafford County, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Expect High Winds

High winds fanned wildfires in Prince William and Stafford counties on Feb. 19, 2011.

It’s going to get windy out there today.

The National Weather Service has placed the Potomac Communities under a high wind advisory between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Then, between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Mother Nature is going to kick it up a notch with winds between 20 and 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, according to the weather service.

This could lead to donned trees and large branches falling on power lines.

The NWS also warns those driving high-profile vehicles could also be affected by the winds.

The advisory comes less than a week after high winds fanned massive wildfires in the area.

More than 300 acres of land burned in Prince William County, in Dale City, Woodbridge and the Manassas areas. Officials in Stafford said 200 acres of land burned there, mostly near the border of Stafford and Fauquier counties.

While Prince William County’s burn regulations state no one can burn outside without a permit, the county’s fire marshal has suspended all permits and banded all outside fires between today and Saturday because of the high winds.

Helicopter Search Ends with Two Charged

Update 11:30 a.m. Friday
Stafford County officials this morning announced charges to the one man who was apparently injured during a breaking and entering in North Stafford on Thursday.

Mark Tyler Lewis, 19, is charged with breaking and entering, conspiracy to commit grand larceny and vandalism, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Police arrested him at his home Thursday afternoon after a massive search involving a Virginia State Police helicopter, not one from Fairfax County as officials had earlier stated.

Lewis has been tied to a breaking and entering at a home on Flewellen Drive in the Park Ridge neighborhood.

He’s also been charged in another breaking and entering that occurred on the same street February 17.

Original Post
North Stafford, Va. ––
Authorities called in the help of a police helicopter from Fairfax County to help find a 19-year-old man who allegedly broke into a home and eluded sheriff’s deputies on Thursday.

Sheriff’s deputies were called at 10:21 a.m. to a home on Flewellen Drive in the Park Ridge neighborhood in North Stafford after a neighbor called 911 and said she witnessed suspicious activity happening the neighborhood.

When deputies arrived, neighbors told them a house had been broken into and then pointed at two men neighbors say they saw break into the house, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

The deputies chased the two men and were able to apprehend one of them, but the other got away.

A search perimeter was set up and a helicopter was called in to search for the second man, who was eventually located at his home more than four hours later, said Kennedy.

The man who sheriff’s deputies say fled the scene suffered a minor injury presumably during the home break in, said Kennedy.

He was treated at a local hospital and is expected to be released.

His name is Mark Tyler Lewis, 19, of Knowlside Court in North Stafford, and will be formally charged when he is released from the hospital.

The second man, Joey Earl Wilkins, 19, of 125 Shenandoah Lane in North Stafford, is charged with breaking and entering, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, underage possession of alcohol, vandalism and with one count of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, said Kennedy.

Authorities say the suspects in this case were not armed, but officials did use electronic means of communication to alert residents to the search for the man.

Stafford’s E-911 system was not working at the time of the search, said Kennedy.

54 Counts of Child Porn Possession Filed

Stafford County, Va. –– Two men face child pornography charges in Stafford County.

One of the men, 38-year-old Mark Andrew Corpora, of 6 Belmont Court in Stafford, was already being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail on pornography charges out of Spotsylvania County when Stafford officials charged him with 40 counts of child pornography possession with the intent to distribute, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Corpora was indicted by a grand jury February 7.

Stafford authorities searched his home and found child pornography on his computer, said Kennedy.

Sheriff’s deputies also found child pornography on a computer in a home at 27 Easter Drive, near Wapole Street on Tuesday, authorities said.

A Stafford County investigator working on a tip he received last spring collected evidence and obtained arrest warrants for 31-year-old Nathan Ryan Miller.

He was indicted by a grand jury and was arrested without incident on Tuesday and is now charged with 14 counts of possession and reproduction of child pornography, said Kennedy.

The two incidents are not related.

The arrests come less than a week after another man was arrested in Stafford County and charged with three counts of possession of child pornography.

Authorities said 50-year-old Michael Michaud initially eluded authorities, but he later taken into custody at his home on Arrowhead Road in the Rockhill section of the county.

Government Shutdown? Not on VRE

A federal government shutdown wouldn’t affect Virginia Railway Express, it’s chief operator says.

In a letter today to riders, the commuter railroad’s chief stated VRE’s doesn’t rely solely on the feds for funding.

“Our operating funds come from state and local subsidies as well as rider fares.  We will not be required to stop operating,” stated CEO Dale Zehner.

Zehner said he would continue to watch the situation closely.

A federal government shutdown is looming and Republicans and Democrats are at a budget impasse, and it could happen as early as Friday, officials warn.

It would the first shutdown of the federal government since 1995.

One Ejected In Crash

One person was ejected and two others trapped inside a car that overtuned on I-95 in Stafford. (Submitted)

Update 8:40 a.m. Friday
The man who was ejected from the backseat of a SUV on I-95 was not wearing his seat belt, police say.

Three men were traveling in a 1994 Isuzu Rodeo about 2:10 Thursday when the driver, 19-year-old Brett Tyler Jones, of

Stafford, lost control of the SUV and it overturned landing on the median of the highway.

Alex Underwood, 20, had been sitting in the back seat of the SUV and was ejected, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler.

Another man, 20-year-old Cody Bailey, was also injured.

All three were taken to a hospital with serious injuries, officials said.

Original Post 3 p.m. Thursday
Stafford, Va. ––
One person was ejected from a car this afternoon as it traveled on Interstate 95 in Stafford County.

The cross-over SUV vehicle with three occupants inside overturned in the northbound lanes and landed in the median of the highway at mile post 139, ejecting one person from the car, said Stafford Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Mark Doyle.

Three people have been taken to a local hospital following the crash, and afterward, crews removed the vehicle from the median.

The conditions of the victims were not released.

Two of the occupants inside the vehicle became trapped and had to be extracted.

Initial reports indicated the vehicle overturned but then landed on all four tires.

The crash happened about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, and since has backed up traffic on both the north and southbound sides of the highway.

More Commuter Parking Coming to Area

Prince William and Stafford counties are about to get new commuter parking spaces.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton announced today that state will spend $7.8 million in new commuter parking inititives in Prince William County.

Officials say $7.2 million will go to build a new 600-space commuter parking lot on the  grounds of an old commuter bus lot off Telegraph Road. The lot is about a quarter-mile from the the Horner Road commuter parking lot in Woodbridge – already the state’s largest commuter parking lot.

“We have a shot term, a medium term and a long-term solution. We will hopefully be adding 1,000 spaces in the short to medium term and adding additional spaces in the long term,” said Connaughton.

The spaces will be built on the grounds of an old commuter bus lot adjacent to the Horner Road lot, on Telegraph Road.

Newly needed pedestrian improvements between the two lots will also be added.

In Stafford County, state transportation officials are polling government officials about where to add new commuter parking spaces as part of the High Occupancy Toll lanes project.

Connaughton says he knows they’re needed, and that a mass amount of commuter parking will have to be built throughout the Interstate 95/395 HOT lanes corridor from Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) to Edsall Road in Alexandria

That project will extend the current HOV lanes on I-95 from Dumfries to Va. 610.

“The VDOT staff has been out already reaching out to the local government…we anticipate the demands being different in each area affected by the HOT lanes projects and our hope is to have a study done by the end of the year,” said Connaughton.

It’s not yet clear where the new commuter parking spaces will be built in Stafford County.

Today’s announcement comes on the same day Prince William County officials signed a one-year, $289,000 deal with the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge to lease 370 commuter parking spaces.

Commuters may begin parking there March 15.

Prince William County officials began looking for additional parking spaces after Potomac Mills mall earlier this month reduced the number of commuter parking spaces there by 75 percent, from 1,000 to 275.

Sheriff’s Office Targets Area Roads

The view of traffic in front of Mountain View High School, at Mountain View and Choptank roads in Stafford County. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Stafford County, Va. –– Officials on Thursday night will hold a public hearing on improvements to Mountain View Road.

The two-lane road has long been a problematic one in the county, and will now be part of a focused effort by the county’s sheriff’s department to curb speeding and reduce accidents.

It’s called “Survive the Drive,” and officials say it’s about getting drivers to be safe behind the wheel.

“The goal of Survive the Drive is to change driver behavior, not to give out tickets,” said Stafford County Sheriff Charles E. Jett.  “If we can educate drivers about what we are going to be doing and why and driving behaviors change than our focus on saving lives will be realized.”

Beginning March 1, sheriff’s deputies will increase enforcement on Mountain View Road where they’ll target speeders, those suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as well as to remove unsafe cars from the roads.

Starting March 15, deputies will shift their attention to Courthouse Road (Va. 630) and then to River Road in south Stafford.

The enforcement campaign will continue throughout the year in separate enforcement waves, messages on billboards and advertisements in local schools and on TV.

Authorities collected comments from residents, examined speeding hot spots and crash data and road design to determine which roads to target.

Tonight’s public hearings on Mountain View Road improvements will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Margaret Brent Elementary School, at 2125 Mountain View Road in Stafford County.

Around Town

Board Votes For New Stafford High School
The Stafford County School Board has voted to approve the construction of a new Stafford High School, replacing the one critics say has become too old and crowded. The new school is expected to cost $64 million and would be built next to the existing school, and now they have to convince the county’s Board of Supervisors to fund it, reports Fredericksburg.com.

I-95 Shooter Not Guilty of Attempted Murder
When shots rang out on Interstate 95 in Prince William County last year, police charged 26-year-old Gabriel Poventud with attempted murder. He unloaded 13 shots into a dump truck he said was trying to run him and his child off the highway in a road rage incident. On Wednesday, a jury in Manassas found him not guilty of attempted murder but he will have to serve jail time, Insidenova.com reports.

Ghost Class to be Held in Dumfries
Like to hunt for ghosts or do you have a special place in your heart for the strange? The Weems Botts Museum in Dumfries and the 3:33 a.m. Paranormal Research Group will hold a paranormal research class on March 19. Click here for details.

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